Cult cinema and nostalgia

Authored by: Renee Middlemost

The Routledge Companion to Cult Cinema

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138950276
eBook ISBN: 9781315668819
Adobe ISBN:


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Cinema going is irrevocably tied to the past and, as such, our memories of past cinema attendance, and understanding of the discourses of cinema spectatorship are brought with us each time we step into a theatre. There have been few studies surveying the connection between cult film and nostalgia, despite the depth of research regarding nostalgia within film studies more generally (le Sueur, 1977; Jameson, 1998; Dika, 2003; Cook, 2005; Sprengler, 2009). This chapter will consider nostalgia and its relationship to cult film, in particular the viewing of Hollywood classic film on college campuses, seasonal cult films, and finally, a brief case study of the way that nostalgia and longing structure the practices of cult film audiences in Sydney, Australia. The case study illustrates how this group is influenced by nostalgia for the cinema going practices of the past, and subsequently, how they create traditions around seasonal cult films unique to the group. Therefore, this chapter will examine how cult films are viewed, valued and enjoyed by audiences and how their viewing practices articulate both a nostalgic yearning for the past, and a way to express one’s (fan) identity into the future.

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